Donegal have had time to celebrate and reflect on their Ulster winning campaign and now it is time to move on and focus on the Super 8s.
The time for reflection and celebrations are well and truly over and Donegal must set their sights of qualifying for one of the four All-Ireland semi-final places.
That is the view of Donegal vice-captain and midfielder Hugh McFadden.
“We’ve had time over the last ten days to two weeks to reflect on our Ulster campaign and to celebrate and enjoy the success,” said the big Killybegs man, who has grown in stature and reputation with every game on the way to the county’s 10th Ulster championship win.
The break also gave players and management time to reflect on the things that went well and those aspects of the game that maybe did not go as well as they would have liked in their three games in the championship to date.
“We had a three week run in to the start of the quarter-final stages and that has allowed us to do a bit of preparation on ourselves.”
Donegal and all the teams in the Super 8s are facing into a hectic schedule of three games over the next four weekends.
The schedule which for Donegal begins this Sunday against Meath in Ballybofey, is demanding on mind and body.
Hugh McFadden believes the experience gained from last season’s Super 8s campaign will stand to Donegal.
“The Super 8s is non forgiving and you have to be at yourself every day and get your motivation levels spot on for four weeks.
“We were also in the unusual situation until Sunday evening of not knowing who we are playing in the first game. But it is what it is and is going to be an exciting few weeks.”
Donegal first outing is a repeat of this season’s Allianz National Football League Division Two final.
“The home game is a good thing if you win it. People are alluding to the fact that it allows you take the momentum of the Ulster success into the Super 8s.
“If we win on Sunday it would set us up nicely. But equally if you lose it the pressure is on for the next two games.
“We had a home game last year in our last game to get us through to an All-Ireland semi-final and we did not make the most of it.
“It is fine if we start off with a win but if you don’t you will find yourself going away on the last day looking for a win and in our case this year that is Mayo in Castlebar.”
Donegal have been receiving rave reviews since they defeated Tyrone back in the semi-final.
“I think people are getting very excited about us at the moment. That always happens when you string a few results together.
“But we are mature enough and around the block long enough to know there has been very little football played compared to what has to come in the next four weeks..
“If we are to get out of the group we are going to have to get performance levels up to a serious standard. Meath, Kerry and Mayo are not going to be easy. If we are to get enough points to qualify for the All-Ireland semi-final it is going to take a huge effort.”
In a line-up of Donegal, Kerry and Mayo (three of the leading challengers to Dublin in the group) there are joined by Meath. The Royal County are perceived as the weakest team in the group.
It is not a line of thinking Hugh McFadden goes along with. He argues and with some justification Donegal would be foolhardy to take the challenge of the beaten Leinster finalists lightly.
“If you look at the National Football League you would have to think differently.
“We were very lucky to get over them in Ballybofey and only a Caolan McGonagle goal late on got us across the line.
“In the league final, we played well in the second half but they ran riot in the first half and led by eight points at one stage. So we know the strength of the Meath team.
“They will be boosted by their win over Clare and they will have momentum from the qualifiers.
“People argue that the break (three weeks) will stand to us and others will argue the momentum of the qualifiers is going to spur Meath on.
“I don’t think motivation is going to be a problem for us but Meath are definitely going to have a pep in their step after their qualifier win.
“We know what to expect and we are going to have to get our preparations spot on and maintain our performance if we are to be in with a chance of winning and set us up for Kerry in Croke Park.”